Monday, 16 July 2012

Summer School Experience

My school experience is one which has lead me to very different ideas and thoughts about school life. This is what happened, well some of...

For summer placement, I attended a lovely school called St Margarets Academy (see website). The school was a mixture of small individual buildings and one main one, which was older looking than the rest. It was modern, and very secure.

Teachers had swipe cards for the car parks and each corridor so children could not wonder during lessons and also meaning no strangers could get into the school other than reception to speak to someone. The lights were automatic, the computer suite was full and mostly functioning and each classroom had working interactive whiteboards.

The staff were very welcoming, and treated us as if we were one of them. From what I saw, the teachers communicated extremely effectively. Staff meeting every tuesday, parents could organise meetings whenever and there was information plastered all over the staff room about what was up and coming, who was taking time out of the classroom, who was leaving or joining, and they had stacks and stacks of resource books! It was heaven!

Preliminary Week
I spent this week trying to find out as much as I could about the school and class and began to plan the science display with Alex, my teaching partner. We got all the policies, and being the ICT specialist I was massively pleased to see the size of the e-safety policy... Shame the ICT wasnt used to it's full potential though! Saying that, the school was brilliant.

The school had a change over of SENcO while we were there so we got the opportunity to speak to 2 different women about their role, and how they ran the hearing support centre which the school ran.

Getting to know the children was really hard because this week was spent as Olympics Week with the whole school divided into mixed age classes, nicknamed 'countries'. We had a parade at the end of the week, and so this week was majorly spent doing arts and crafts and learning about China, the country of our class.

I tried to meet some Q standards, but this week was difficult to meet the ones I wanted to! Need to get in a routine! Bad times.

Week 1 - Maths Profile Child and Science Display Plan
Thursday and Friday we took the register to try and get to know some children, and this continued throughout placement.

The first day back was a non-pupil day and we were asked not to attend... BONUS. (I'm only joking!)

We picked a Maths profile child to observe and today we started gathering information. I picked a deaf child who really interested me. The behaviour of this child was very different to the other children in the class, and it was particularly interesting to see them work with another deaf child who was also in the class. I spent most of the week focusing on this child, and we really got on well... Not that I didnt get on with the others, I just mean because this child was my focus for a uni task! :)

We took guided reading and observed as many lessons as possible and I learnt a lot about managing our class. There was a wide variety of behavioural needs ranging from ADHD, hearing impaired children to those who struggled to remain focused.

We needed to organise our science display, and fast! They had a 3 board habitat display which needed to come down, but we didnt have anything to put up... Better get a move on!

Next week is Olympic Week....Bring it On!!

Week 2 - Olympic Week & Science Displays!
This week had next to no lessons in at all, and when I say lessons I mean those sat in the classroom doing activity kind of lessons... Oh no, we were teaching Table Tennis to 2 different classes EACH day! This was brilliant, getting to see how the other teachers managed their class and it also helped us to identify those other children in school who had particular needs.

Anyway, we did get to learn about the Olympics, and even teach some Geography to do with it! We were given an activity booklet, so there wasn't too much to plan, we just had to cater the activites to our class. By this time, it was a little easier to spot which children may need additional help or who may need a higher ability set of work, and so we tried to differentiate the tasks as much as possible... Only trouble was, I made a matching activity which I thought would take them a while with the atlas (the lesson objective involved atlas use!) and some of the children didn't even need to use them! Whether they used the process of elimination, team work or just had enough knowledge to complete it, I had certainly underestimated them! I was gutted!

Thursday and Friday were taken out to do sports day, but we had a horrendous bout of rain and so it was cancelled. Instead, we did phonics teaching and I took circle time alone. It was kind of scary, but the responses the children produced made it worth it.

We were discussing their week, what they had learnt, how the Olympics made them feel, why the children think we are the host and how this week had affected them, and some responses included:

'This week has made me realise it's not about winning but taking part'
'I am proud to be part of this country because I might not see this again'
'I didn't think I would enjoy any of the sports, but I had a go and it turns out I really did. I do some sport at home now!'


And then came the science display...

We had resourced our science display but it was time to put it up.. and here it went.

The topic was moving and growing, and so we used cross curricular links to tie it in with their Olympics topic, and the work they were doing in Maths.

The children were learning about bar charts, scatter graphs and other sorts of graphs, and so we decided to incorporate growing into their maths work, and while they measured their heights in pairs, we also took down the measurements and made this section into a completed bar graph.

We chose colours which would stand out, and appeal to the eyes of the children, so we used Orange for the axis and Yellow and Green for the bars.

There is a gap in the graph because a student was on holiday!

We were asked to make the display interactive for the children so we made sure they had consistency by using a fact box, and then I created question flaps for the children to use at their leisure.

Above shows the terms they would need for the whole topic, and some interesting facts.

On the right is 3 of the 5  question flaps which would intrigue the children to think. They were brightly coloured and contained images to help them get the answer.

Bottom left and right shows some more interactivity where the children could label a knee bone and an elbow joint, something they would be learning about later on.

The section in the middle was a brilliant idea we came up with, and we observed the children using this since the first day it went up. The investigation title was' One way I have used my muscles today is...' and they had to fill it in. Some children came up with the same responses, so we put a sign up asking them to think of a different one each day.

It was finished!!!

Week 3 - A Week Full of Observations and ICT
Although I had been doing some observations throughout the other weeks, this week I NEEDED to get things done! Science display, observations, and a TONNE of evaluations! Ann (our uni tutor) told us we were doing too much work though, WIN!

This week I observed how presentation assists learning, worked alongside a TA in numeracy, planned Science and Geography lessons, taught those lessons, took a group out for numeracy, observed a different class teacher on organisation and structure and then taught ICT databases.

ICT was a brilliant lesson, because I had been given a pack full of lesson plans, how to get to the programme, what the children should learn, NC references and anything else I needed...Trouble is, the programme didnt work!

I raced through a lesson and created a database using their heights and feet sizes we had measured for the display using their programme called 2Investigate, part of the 2Simple package. I like this package, it really helped the children out!

I had 15 minutes to learn how to use the programme, about the same to add the data and then lunch time to create a worksheet like the one I was given to teach. Thankfully the children worked well with it, and were even more focused with the programme because it was about them! I followed this up the following week, and taught databases to the other year 5 class which was great fun!

Week 4 - Sad Times!
This week, although it was the last week it was also one of the best. We got to help make pinatas with the children for their school fayre, take the children to an orchestra concert and the previous week we took them to TCC for the day to experience secondary school. I also got to observe Alex teach music, teach my class database lesson 2 (creating their own databases), teach the other year 5 class how to search for information in a database about themselves, teach geography which I have to be honest was just learning about Indian tea and then tasting different teas, and teaching the same lesson to the other year 5 class.

Although this is a long blog, it will help me when I look back for next school experience....I hope!